Sound vibrations can encode and process information like quantum computers do
The evolution of computing has always been a race for power and miniaturization. Today, we are on the cusp of a technological revolution that could change the game: quantum computing. However, the fragility of these systems and the need for extreme isolation present major challenges. A team of University of Arizona researchers proposes an alternative approach: the use of acoustics to mimic some of the properties of quantum computers.
Quantum computers use qubits, which, unlike classical bits, can exist in multiple superposition states in addition to the 1 and 0 states. This superposition allows quantum computers to process large amounts of information simultaneously, making all of its energy efficiency desirable. However, maintaining this superposition is a tall order, as the slightest disturbance in the environment can destroy it.
A research team led by Pierre Deimier has succeeded in creating a device that mimics the behavior of a qubit, but on a much larger scale. For this, they assembled three aluminum wires and used loudspeakers to create vibrations at one end of the assembly. By adjusting the sound frequencies, they were able to create localized ‘bits’ of sound in the bars, which they called ‘fi-bits’. These phi-bits can be used to encode information such as qubits. Their experiments were presented May 12 at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Chicago, Illinois.
The main innovation of this approach is that these fi-bits can exist simultaneously and are not independent of each other, meaning that they can be forced into a state of superposition just like qubits. In addition, the team developed methods to perform simple computational operations, such as changing the state of a phi-bit from 1 to 0, and created complex states that share some properties with complex particles and quantum systems.
However, it should be noted that this approach is not really quantum computing. As Gerd Leuchs of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany explains, there are fundamental limits to the extent to which a non-quantum system can mimic a quantum system. Quantum objects have wave properties, meaning that some of their characteristics, such as the formation of superpositions, can be mimicked by other waves, such as sound. However, quantum objects also have unique interaction-response modes that are essential to realizing the full benefits of quantum computing.
An opening door rather than a major breakthrough?
Although Deimier and his team’s approach does not replace quantum computers, it does provide a new way to explore and understand quantum mechanics. By mimicking some of the properties of qubits, they created a system that could serve as a gateway to a better understanding of quantum computing and its potential applications.
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Acoustics has many advantages as a means of mimicking quantum properties. First, it is less brittle than “classical” quantum systems, meaning it can operate under more varied and less controlled conditions. In addition, it makes it possible to perform calculations similar to those of quantum computers at room temperature and with long synchronization times. This could pave the way for practical applications of quantum computing in less controlled environments.
However, it is important to emphasize that this approach is still in its infancy. As Deimer points out, We have a lot of flexibility in what we can do here. This is a new system and we have yet to discover its limits. “. Therefore, continuous research and testing is necessary to fully understand the potential and limitations of this system.
The bottom line is that even if the properties of quantum behavior obtained through acoustics are not sufficient to completely transform the quantum system, they can be a catalyst for better understanding this revolutionary technology or an extension to improve its stability. . Indeed, exploring new ways to mimic quantum properties could overcome some of the current challenges of this technology and bring it closer to practical use.